ACAPULCO, México - The Abierto Mexicano TELCEL kicked off Monday with its first five main draw matches, and for the two seeded players in action, Irina-Camelia Begu and Alberta Brianti, it was a tough but successful day.
No.8 seed Brianti was the first of the two to advance, dropping the first set and twice rallying from a break down in the second set but eventually grinding past former Acapulco finalist Alizé Cornet in two hours and 17 minutes, 36 63 63.
The No.4-seeded Begu took the court later on at night, playing even longer - three hours and one minute - to get past Timea Bacsinszky, 76(3) 36 64. Bacsinszky had a mid-match revival, winning seven consecutive games to go from 3-1 down in the second set to 2-0 up in the third, but Begu got back on track and showed why she was named 2011's WTA Newcomer Of The Year.
"It was very humid and playing three hours in those conditions was not easy, but I'm happy I won," the 21-year-old Romanian said. "She had nothing to lose today and was playing really well. I had so many chances in the first set and was up 3-1 in the second set - it's not easy when you give your opponent that kind of chance, but I just fought for every ball and thankfully I won in the end.
"I just want to come back to Acapulco every year. The organization, the player party and everything is perfect here. I'm really enjoying myself."
The other three winners were veterans Stéphanie Foretz Gacon and Melinda Czink, as well as 20-year-old Mexican wildcard Ximena Hermoso, who scored her first career WTA main draw win over Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, 75 63.
"It was amazing. Everything was going through my mind on match point," the Mexican No.1 jubilated. "I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think, I was just trying to run and put the ball in play. When she missed the ball on match point I screamed - I had too many emotions all in one. It was my biggest win so far."
Hermoso had been 0-3 in WTA main draw play going into the match, losing first round last year at Acapulco (to Julia Goerges) and Monterrey (to Aleksandra Wozniak) and last week again at Monterrey (to Timea Babos).
"Playing at this level is very high intensity all the time," Hermoso added. "You have to be ready, running and hitting the ball so hard all the time."
At No.382, Hermoso is México's only Top 500 player - the next-highest, Nadia Abdala, is ranked No.542. Abdala is also a main draw wildcard here.
The rest of the first round matches take place on Tuesday, including Top 3-seeded Italians Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta and Sara Errani. Pennetta has been by far the most successful player in the tournament's history, reaching the final here six times (and winning the title two of those times) - she opens her campaign against last year's runner-up, Spain's Arantxa Parra Santonja.